You Gotta Love 'Elf, The Musical'

 Buddy and his fellow elves perform a musical number in the John Engeman Theater’s production of Elf: The Musical.  Photo by Michael DeCristofaro

Buddy and his fellow elves perform a musical number in the John Engeman Theater’s production of Elf: The Musical. Photo by Michael DeCristofaro

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

It’s certainly true that “the best way to spread holiday cheer, is to sing it loud for all to hear”, which is exactly what the cast of Elf: The Musical did.

The beloved holiday film hit the stage of the John W. Engeman Theater to the delight of kids of all ages. With catchy original songs, intricate choreography and many famous quotes from the movie, the musical could put anybody in the holiday spirit, including audience member, Michele Donaldson who came all the way from Connecticut for the performance.

“It was amazing,” Donaldson said. “I thought it was definitely full of Christmas cheer, something we all need nowadays.”

Based on the 2003 holiday hit movie, Elf starring Will Ferrell, the 2010 musical found major success on Broadway. It tells the story of Buddy the Elf, a human orphan boy who crawls into Santa’s bag and is taken back to the North Pole, where he is raised by the elves.

In search of his father, Buddy travels to New York City where he encounters a world without holiday cheer and a father who never knew he was born. His adventures in the city are comical and accompanied by a wonderful soundtrack. No one could deny there was something magical happening on stage during “Sparklejollytwinklejingley,” “A Christmas Song” and “The Story of Buddy the Elf.”

 Actors Christianne Tisdale (Emily Hobbs), Joe Gately (Walter Hobbs) and Erik Gratton (Buddy the Elf) share a bonding moment.  Photo by Michael DeCristofaro

Actors Christianne Tisdale (Emily Hobbs), Joe Gately (Walter Hobbs) and Erik Gratton (Buddy the Elf) share a bonding moment. Photo by Michael DeCristofaro

“It was very good, I liked it,” audience member Peter Bono, of Northport, said. “They’re very talented people. It started off a little slow, but then as you got to know the cast it was great.”

This holiday production is directed by Matt Kunkel and choreographed by Mara Newbery Greer. The skilled cast didn’t miss a beat and performed sophiscated choreography that involved lifts, tap dancing and even ice skating. During the song, “Nobody Cares About Santa,” Santas of all kinds find camaraderie on Christmas Eve in a tap dancing number that makes you want to get out of your seat and dance along.

“I thought it was right on target. It was super fun and full of talent,” Donaldson said.

Buddy the Elf is played by Erik Gratton, the perfect fit for the jolly elf with a huge heart and little common sense. His rendition of Buddy, a character so many know and love from the original movie, is spot on.

There is no shortage of laughs during the production as Buddy makes his way around the city, bumbling around with a smile on his face the whole time.

“My favorite part was the whimsical nature of the show,” Donaldson said. “Just how nieve and happy Buddy was, I think we should all be that way.”

 Gordon Gray (Santa) in the Engeman Theater production of “Elf: The Musical.”  Photo by Michael DeCristofaro

Gordon Gray (Santa) in the Engeman Theater production of “Elf: The Musical.” Photo by Michael DeCristofaro

The rest of the cast were also sensational, and each had their moment in the spotlight.

Buddy’s love interest Jovie, played by Caitlin Gallogly, stole the show with her vocals in “Never Fall in Love”. The rest of Buddy’s family, Walter Hobbs, performed by Joe Gately, Emily Hobbs by Christianne Tisdale, and Michael Hobbs, by Zachary Podiar, each have their heartwarming moments that gave the show a touch of humanity.

Performances of “Elf: The Musical” continue through Dec. 30 at the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport Village. Show times are 8 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays; 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturdays; and 2 p.m. on Sundays. There are also select shows on Wednesdays and Sunday evenings.

Tickets can be purchased for $73-$78 at the box office or online at engemantheater.com.